MSU unit changes name, emphasizes sustainability


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Posted: 12/16/2013


A Mississippi State University department has been renamed to reflect the renewable, natural and sustainable resources used in the industry.

The MSU Department of Forest Products is now the Department of Sustainable Bioproducts.

Department head Rubin Shmulsky said that over the last few decades, the profession has grown and evolved to include both wood and other bioproducts, including agricultural residues, natural fibers and adhesives. He said the name change reflects the focus on renewable, sustainable products that are already part of the MSU program.

"Across the U.S., university-level wood science and forest products programs have evolved to include a broadened focus on sustainability, conservation, renewable resources and environmental stewardship," Shmulsky said. "While these concepts have always been included in the MSU program, it is important that the department name reflects this effort."

Established in 1964, the department is a national leader in the development of wood durability and preservation technologies, the conversion of woody biomass into liquid fuels, the use of small diameter and low-value trees, and the testing of engineered wood products in furniture.

The department currently offers graduate degrees only. Faculty and administrators are developing a new sustainable bioproducts undergraduate curriculum.

"The department's research contributes significantly to the Mississippi economy," said George Hopper, dean of the MSU College of Forest Resources and Forest and Wildlife Research Center. "This name change better reflects the departmental mission and goals for research and education."

Forestry and forest product industries contribute $10.38 billion annually to the state's economy and employ more than 63,000 people. Timber is the second-largest agricultural commodity in 2013, with a preliminary year-end harvest value estimated at $1.17 billion.

The department name change was approved this fall by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.

Forest Products